The Guilt Trip of Parents Paying for...

The Guilt Trip of Parents Paying for Your Schooling

by Anthony Teles
Jobs People Do | JobsPeopleDo.com

Somewhere, at some point, someone has brought up student debt in a conversation with you. In that moment, you had to decide whether to let them know your parents paid/ or are paying for most or all of your tuition. You did nothing wrong, and yet cannot fend off the pangs of guilt. Those feelings are exacerbated when your parents conveniently bring the fact up as a joke, in conversation, or as a reminder of your debt. Even if they do not expect repayment, you are emotionally indebted to them indefinitely.

Yet you are far from alone. Nearly half of all Canadian parents intend on paying for most of their children’s post-secondary expenses, according to a Bank of Montreal survey. Almost 80% are worried about increasing post-secondary costs, and two-thirds have a Registered Education Savings Plan to prepare for the expense. Your mom or dad’s financial aid is a wonderful gesture of their love and support, but it is not one unique amongst parents.

The best approach to tackling this guilt is to talk to your parents about it directly. As nerve-wrecking as preparing for this is, it could very well be the easiest solution. They may not be aware that they are constantly making off-hand comments about paying for you. Even if they are consciously holding it over you, they may not be aware of the full impact of this and its negative consequences. By opening up the discussion, both parties can clearly explain where they are coming from and how to reach a solution.

That sum of money may be large, but it is not being spent frivolously – it is an investment in your education and future. By putting in a full effort, frequently discussing how classes are benefitting you, and sharing your high grades with them, you are showing your parents that the investment is paying off. In some cases, that may be all that is needed to put aside any anxieties mom or dad had about whether those tens of thousands of dollars would have been better invested elsewhere. Years later, when you are in the midst of a very satisfying career, or saving for your own children’s post-secondary education, the ones who made your own schooling possible will know it was worth it.

In many cases, the best solution is to repay the actual money back to your parents. Repaying your parents can sound terrifying. The people who raised and cared for you are now assuming the role of bank or lender; family has acquired shades of business. Fortunately, a mother or father are not as aggressive as a debt collector. It is a good idea to discuss the specific terms of repayment, namely the amount of each payment and their frequency, in order to put your parents’ minds at ease. Finding a happy medium between their needs and your ability to repay is of utmost importance.

Money is always a perilous topic for people with a close relationship. Your parents gave birth to you, raised you, and have done so much before college or university even entered the picture. The guilt of their financial aid can be overwhelming; that aid, however, is an act of love. Even if your parents are making you feel guilty for their payment, they still handed over that money in the first place. By discussing it with them and figuring out a solution, you are taking mature steps toward adulthood.


Cheever, Charlie. “What Should I Do If I Feel Guilty About My Parents Paying $50K a Year to Send Me to College?” Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2011/12/14/what-should-i-do-if-i-feel-guilty-about-my-parents-paying-50k-a-year-to-send-me-to-college/#d2b35da33eb1

Davidson, Terry. “Almost half of Canadian parents pay kids’ university tuition: Study.” Toronto Sun. http://www.torontosun.com/2014/08/26/almost-half-of-canadian-parents-pay-kids-university-tuition-study

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